Steam mops and cleaners have grown in popularity in recent years and there continues to be new innovations and new models regularly launched. So what is so great about using a steam cleaner?
- High temperature steam is used to clean floors and surfaces rather than water and cleaning products. This is generally more effective and also has the added benefit of killing bacteria
- No need to use other cleaning products so cheaper in the long run
- They are safe to use on a variety of surfaces including various floors, upholstery and even clothing
- They can also be used to clean kitchen ovens and grills, BBQs and tiled surfaces.
Use our handy guide below to ensure you get one of the best floor steamers for you.
Best selling floor steam cleaner and mop comparison guide
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Vax 15-in-1 Steam Fresh Combi (S86-SF-C)
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Shark Multifunction Lite (S2901UK)
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Choosing the best steam cleaner or mop
The term “steam cleaner” and “steam mop” are often used interchangeably but although they both have the same technology, there are some fundamental differences. Basically, steam cleaners and mops can be categorised into three main types:
- Handheld steam cleaners – these are typically lower priced and smaller units that are used primarily to clean smaller surfaces areas and items such as grills, tiles and BBQs. Typically, you would not buy one of these for floor cleaning alone. Check out our handheld steam cleaners buying guide for further information.
- Steam mops – basic steam mops are designed for cleaning sealed hard floor surfaces, such as wood, laminate, lino or tile. Some of the best steam mops also come with a carpet “glider” attachment that allows you to “refresh” carpets when steam cleaning. This does not replace a carpet cleaner but does a decent job of making them look revitalised. Steam mops are often available cheaper than a steam cleaner/mop unit.
- Steam cleaners – these are generally 2-in-1 units that feature a steam mop with detachable handheld unit (both mop and cleaner share the same steam generator). This is great because you can clean different floor surfaces with the added benefit of having the detachable unit for more portable and detailed steam cleaning (such as tile grout, ovens or upholstery). Steam cleaners will often come with a wide variety of attachments such as different steam nozzle sizes and special fittings for upholstery, oven or even steam cleaner attachments for grout cleaning.
Each of the three types offer their own pros and cons. For floor cleaning, avoid the standalone handheld cleaner and look for a steam mop or 2-in-1 steam mop/cleaner combination as these will offer the best value in the longer term.
Features to consider when buying a steam cleaner or mop
There are many different features to compare when researching, below are the main ones to look out for:
- Water tanks – all steam mops or cleaners need to be filled with water to generate the steam. This is normally done by removing and filling a small plastic container. Most models have tanks that are between 400-500ml so make sure the steam cleaners or mops you compare have a specification similar to this.
- Heating time – the cleaner or mop need to heat the water once filled. The heating time varies depending on the water tank size (how much water to heat) and heater power. For steam mops, the typical time to heat is between 30 seconds and 1 minute.
- Steaming time – once you are ready to go with steam then another important factor is the actual time you will have to steam clean before you have to stop and refill. Most steam mops will provide you with 10 to 15 minutes steaming time before you have to return to the sink. Some models offer up to 20 minutes cleaning time which provides decent cleaning time between fill ups.
- Attachments & tools – most steam mops and cleaners come with attachments that can be used for a variety of applications and surfaces. Makes sure the model you choose has at least some attachments so you have the flexibility at a later date (even though you will probably end up not using some attachments!). Common accessories include extension nozzles and attachments for upholstery, garment cleaning, worktops and window cleaning. Also included with some models are brushes and angled jet nozzles for cleaning kitchen appliances and difficult to access surfaces. Look out for “2-in-1” steam cleaner/mops – these are models that are steam mops but have a detachable steam unit so can be used as a handheld device.
- Weight – as with other home cleaning appliances such as vacuum cleaners, the weight of the steam mop or cleaner can be important. Steam mops are relatively light, between 2-3kg, but you have to add the filled water tank weight on top of this; so the bigger the tank , the heavier the unit will become. If you plan on using the steam mop frequently or you may have difficult handling a heavy unit then it may be a better option to choose a lighter weight model.
- Type of steam mop head – two things are important regarding the steam mop head. The first is the size and manoeuvrability of the mop head. Smaller mop heads will be able to fit into tighter spaces. Some models also have a swivelling head and are great for getting under furniture (some models have handles that lay flat in use) and up against skirting boards or kitchen plinths. The second point to check is what type of cover is on the mop head. Two common covers are used – disposable ones are easier to use but mean you have to keep buying, whereas re-usable covers can save you money in the long run.
Karcher steam cleaner reviews
Karcher SC3 All-In-One Review
Automatic Descaling System: The descaling system makes this steamer ideal when it comes to limescale and hard water stains.
Compact: The SC3 is very small and compact and easy to take around the house with you. It is not a big clunky product that you have to drag in tow.
Quick Heat Up: This steamer heats up remarkably fast. In just 30 seconds it is steaming and ready to use, making cleaning all the more faster.
The biggest advantage of this steamer is that you are able to kill 99.9% of bacteria in your home without having to use harsh chemicals. All you need is water and you’re ready to go.
The disadvantage, if you could call it that, is that this steamer only holds 1 litre of water. But in the big picture, this is still a lot for a steamer. Plus, it is super easy to refill.
Karcher SC1 Review
High Pressure: This hand-held steamer produces 3 bars of pressure. Water heats up within 3 minutes allowing you to clean your home much faster.
Compact Design: The Karcher SC1 is constructed with sturdy and lightweight materials which result into a compact model. On the handle you’ll find a simple on and off button which allows you to control the steam volume much easier.
Multiple Accessories: The SC1 comes with multiple accessories which provide a seamless cleaning experience. These are hand cloth, floor nozzle round brush, detail nozzle, power nozzle, power brush and a storage bag.
Multiple Cleaning Applications: It eliminates the need to scrub floors or apply expensive chemicals. Steam power is enough to remove greasy stains from your floors and appliances. Karcher SC1 is a great companion when cleaning carpets and removing limescale and mould from tiles. This appliance allows you to perform quick cleaning in your home.
The main advantage of SC1 is that it cleans only with tap water. It also allows you to clean all places in your home from kitchens to bathrooms to living room floors. The SC1 comes with an array accessories which makes the whole cleaning process much easier. It delivers an exceptional amount of pressure and heats up faster. Steam release buttons, safety boiler caps and a child lock make it easier and safe to use.
One of the downsides is a stiff handle which makes it hard to clean small spaces. Refills are an inconvenience when cleaning large areas at once. The cable is also a bit shorter which has a negative impact on cleaning efficiency.
Karcher SC2 Review
All-In-One Cleaner: The SC2 is another model from the Karcher series which allows you to clean your home without using chemicals. Its great for cleaning carpeted and tiled floors, mirrors, table surfaces and other appliances.
Ergonomic Design: It is designed with a lemellae floor tool which improves cleaning effectiveness. An adjustable steam control, on-board accessory technology and a child proof lock provide a safe and a seamless cleaning experience.
Cleaning Potential: The SC2 produces 3.2 bars of steam which allows you to remove dirt and stains much easier. This model claims to be capable of killing 99.99% of germs using heat, without chemicals. Its great in cleaning greasy surfaces especially ones found in your kitchen. The SC2 makes use of a nozzle and a round brush to clean your surfaces instantly. A large water tank allows you to clean areas up to 75 meters square.
This compact cleaner produces great pressure to leave surfaces spotless. It cleans multiple surfaces with safety and efficiency given the large water tank. Advanced accessories like specialist nozzles allow you to clean your home much faster.
Its not that durable especially when used daily. Another disadvantage is the storage since there are many cables and hoses attached to the cleaner.
Vax steam cleaner and mop reviews
Angular Floor Head: The unique angular floor head makes it easier to get in those awkward crevices around your home without moving furniture.
Handheld on Demand: The S7 easily converts to a handheld unit so you can clean mirrors, countertops, windows, or whatever else without having to wave around a huge steamer.
Easy to Use: The S7 is also very easy to use, with minimal buttons and minimal maintenance. Just fill the tank and you’re ready to go.
This is a complete 16 piece kit with everything you could possibly need to give your house a good cleaning. An affordable and well rated model.
Sometimes when I use it, it takes a while for the steam to generate. But this is an easy fix, and if it really bothers you there is always a 2-year guarantee included with the steamer.
Vax S2S-1 Hard Floor Pro Review
Lightweight: The Vax S2S-1 is super lightweight, weighing only 2 kg. Which makes it super easy to operate and carry with you. It isn’t one that is going to wear you out as you use it.
Effective: Right on par with what you expect from Vax, this steamer kills 99.9% of bacteria for up to 7 days. That means you can rest easy knowing that you and your family are protected from illness causing bacteria.
Special Formulated Cleaning Solution: Vax has made its own, gentle but tough, special formulated cleaning solution. It works better than just regular steam, keeping your home cleaner longer.
This steamer has a quick warm up time of only 1 minute so that you can clean almost instantly. It also comes with everything you need. When you buy this steamer, you get the mop, detergent, a microfiber cleaning pad, a carpet glider, the specially formulated Vax steam detergent, and a guarantee card.
A possible drawback of this steamer is that it does not come with the cooling base. In my experience, however, this is not crucial and the mop works fine without it. But, if you want to purchase it, it can easily be purchased separately.
Angular Floor Head: The angular floor head of this mop makes it easier than ever to get in corners and glide around furniture. You don’t have to break your back trying to get every inch of your floor clean.
Scrub Brush: The built-in compact scrub brush helps lift away stubborn stains and dirt by agitating it and combining it with the power of steam.
Built In Handheld Steamer: The handheld steamer, which performs just as great as the upright mop, is perfect for any steaming you need to do above the ground. It works great on sinks, showers, tile, windows, mirrors, countertops, and more.
The best thing about this one is that you don’t have to do any scrubbing or real work yourself. It is a quick and effective solution to the backbreaking housework you’ve been doing for years.
The only disadvantage is that it can only hold .56 liters of water at a time. This isn’t too bad though since it is easy to refill and it will last you a lot longer than you would expect it to. One of our best buy recommendations.
Shark steam cleaner and mop reviews
Shark Multifunction Lite Steam Pocket Mop (S2901) Review
Swivel Steering: The ergonomic swivel steering of the S2901 makes cleaning a breeze. You don’t have to struggle to get around corners or break your back trying to get to those hard to reach places.
Removable Handheld Steam Cleaner: The removable handheld steamer makes spot cleaning possible as well. You can tackle smaller messes with the handheld units and messes all over the house. You can use it on toys, sheets, countertops, windows, anywhere that get dirty.
Works on All Surfaces: The S2901 works great on hard wood floors, obviously. But, it can also freshen and deodorise carpets with its carpet glider.
In my opinion, the biggest advantage of this one is that it is super lightweight and easy to carry around the house.
The only disadvantage of this steamer is that the bristles of the brush attachment are quite soft, whereas some people prefer them to be a little tougher and more wiry, but this is a matter of personal preference and does not affect the steamers performance.
This Shark Lift Away steam mop features a removable hand-held steamer that is aimed at producing professional results.
It also has a variable steam delivery that allows you to adjust and regulate the amount of steam depending on your needs.
Last but not least it features Shark steam pocket reusable microfiber pads that clean and sanitise on both sides for a longer period without having to change the pad.
This steam mop has a long list of advantages ranging from its high steam rate, it leaves little to no water on the floor, glides smoothly during its use, plus comes with a 2-sided cleaning pad.
Two things that will give you a headache about this mop are its inconsistency in removing sticky and oily stains on vinyl tiles and ceramic and its inability to stand upright on its own.